Experience Nissan



For the majority of people, Nissan is a brand that offers common cars and SUVs. Nevertheless, the brand also has a rich heritage in terms of competition and sports cars. This week, I took the wheel of the all-new Z, the latest addition to a long line of performance cars.


For this new generation, Nissan decided to drop the numbers in the model name, keeping only the Z. The fact is that previous Z models always followed the engine displacement in their name. However, the new Z had to break this tradition, as it would have had to be called the 300 Z, even though the model already existed. Nevertheless, the real issue is that the previous generation was named the 370Z due to its 3.7-liter V6. However, the new Z is equipped with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. This engine delivers 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful variant in the model's history. In fact, there were speculations that Nissan might eventually name it the 400Z, but the model was ultimately presented as the Z.


Nissan offers two transmission options. First, there's the 9-speed automatic transmission. Alternatively, you can opt for a 6-speed manual gearbox. The car I was entrusted with was equipped with the latter, and you will understand why it's significant as you read further.


The Driving Experience


The first thing that surprised me about the Z is how light the clutch pedal is. It's a good thing in traffic, but I would have preferred it to be a bit heavier for the sporty driving experience it offers. The steering wheel is comfortable to hold, and the driving position is very comfortable as well. The Z also offers excellent visibility for a sports car. In short, it won me over even before I started the engine.


The first minutes of driving were very revealing of the car's personality. The Z accelerates strongly, and the turbocharger boost is very pronounced from 2,500 RPM in the first gear. If you appreciate cars with character, you will be pleased. Where the Z could have delivered more is at the other end of the spectrum. It feels like it loses a bit of steam when pushed to its limits. Fortunately, it's rarely necessary to do so, and you'll have a lot of fun behind the wheel up to 95% of its potential. The Z is a car that provides a lot of feedback, which is something I really like. I find it a bit too sensitive to road imperfections for my taste. You need to be quite attentive when driving it, but that's typical of sports cars in general.


Let me tell you that I was particularly excited to take the wheel of the Z, especially with the manual gearbox. Unfortunately, it didn't meet my expectations. I had a lot of fun with it, but after discussing with several colleagues, I came to the conclusion that the automatic transmission is clearly a better option for the Z. The behavior of the car is completely different. This doesn't mean that you should avoid the manual transmission, as it has its merits, especially if it's a car you drive occasionally. I simply believe that Nissan could have done better with the differential ratio and, especially, the engine torque programming.


City - Under normal circumstances, sports cars are often challenging to drive in the city, but it's quite the opposite with the Z. The light clutch and rapid accelerations make it rather enjoyable for city driving.


Highway - Perhaps, it's on the highway where I had the least fun with the Z. In my opinion, it's not a good car for everyday driving, mainly due to its sensitivity to road unevenness. Furthermore, it seems like the car struggles to find its rhythm around the speed limit.


Country Roads - Not surprisingly, it's on this type of road that the Z was the most enjoyable to drive. The small country roads allow you to make good use of the manual transmission gears, and the weight transfers are well balanced.


Design and Technologies


Nissan has gone all out with this new Z in terms of design. The car has a very modern look, but it also incorporates some retro elements. Needless to say, it turns heads wherever it goes. Nissan has also made excellent choices in terms of colors and visual elements offered by the Z.


Inside, you get a higher level of finish than what we've been accustomed to with Z models in the past. The Japanese manufacturer's sports car also offers several interior finish options, including blue seats and trim, which is what was equipped in the car I had the opportunity to test. In my opinion, it's one of the most beautiful interiors I've seen in a car this affordable in a long time. Normally, you'd only find this kind of thing on exotic models.


The 2023 Nissan Z comes with an arsenal of technology. Its multimedia system is quite intuitive, and its safety technologies are effective. The manual gearbox is paired with a "rev match" function that automatically brings the engine to the correct RPM between gear changes. Normally, this is the kind of feature I dislike, but the one in the Z is very effective. In my opinion, this feature alone can justify opting for the Performance version.


Price and Equipment


The 2023 Nissan Z has a starting price of $49,334 in its base version. It's not within everyone's budget, but considering the performance it offers and especially the quality of its finish, it remains considerably affordable. The manual Performance version I tested has a price of $61,398. You'll need to add around $1,500 for the automatic transmission in both cases.


Author's Recommendations


There are sports cars that you can afford to drive every day and in all situations. Unfortunately, that's not the case with the Z. In my opinion, it's a weekend car, and it's a car you should take to the track and on winding country roads to truly appreciate it. It's the kind of car you buy to have occasional fun.


Jean-Sébastien Poudrier

Categories: News